The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

2011.01.12 A banana pestilence?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Quick - name America’s favorite fruit.

Not the apple. Not the orange. It’s the banana. We eat as many of them in a year as apples and oranges combined.

It’s likely that you eat three or four varieties of apples over the course of a year—six or seven for me, probably—but that’s not the case with the banana. It’s the Cavendish that everyone eats. Every year several billion pounds of Cavendish arrive at our supermarkets from Latin America.

I’m picturing in my head a variety of fresh fruit spread out before me. I’m visualizing myself reaching out to take something. I think it’s the banana.

If the oranges were already peeled and sectioned, I might go for those first. Or maybe a bowl of washed grapes. But the banana...it’s quick and easy to peel. It’s quick and easy to spread some peanut butter on it. It’s really easy to eat it, and to have another later in the day.

The best banana eating is to spread some peanut butter across it and then dribble on some honey. It’s not really a banana taste anymore as much as something new with a banana base.

I think perhaps the addition of cinnamon might make it even better. I’ve never tried that before, but hold on. I’ll be right back.

I like it. I went a little heavy with the honey which isn’t really needed with a banana, but for me the cinnamon is a good addition.

My father doesn’t share the world’s love of bananas. Even the odor of a banana makes him feel a little nauseous. He says it’s the result of a childhood banana binge when he ate way too many. 

His disgust of the fruit became well known and his family was surprised the day he picked up a banana to eat. Actually, it was a special banana that held a candy bar inside.

As a lover of bananas, I recall the fearful day as a kid when I thought I might be following in my father’s culinary footsteps. I ate a banana popsicle—no, I couldn’t even finish eating it—when I felt so sick I thought I would never touch a banana again in my life. Instead, I’ve never again touched a banana popsicle. Come to think of it, I don’t really care for banana-flavored anything other than a raw banana.

Now that we know the banana is America’s favorite fruit, it’s time for the bad news. All we eat are Cavendish bananas. There are more than a thousand varieties of the fruit, but the Cavendish is king.

A British explorer came upon what was named the Cavendish when he discovered it growing in a garden in China. Other varieties are small or thin-skinned or bland tasting. Some bruise too easily, others ripen too quickly. There’s just nothing like the Cavendish. About 99 percent of all banana exports are Cavendish.

It’s a banana monoculture, which means that if there was a disease that killed the Cavendish, we might lose our favorite fruit.

Banana pestilence. It’s a fungus and it’s called Tropical Race Four. The Cavendish has already moved across Asia. China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillipines. Now it’s taking its toll in Australia. There’s no reason that Latin America won’t take its turn eventually.

A banana farmer in Australia put it this way to writer Mike Peed: “Americans are snookered. They better wake up and realize it, or they’re not going to have any bananas to eat.”

That’s a rather depressing thought to everyone but my father, however, this isn’t the first time it’s happened. The really good tasting banana—the Gros Michel that didn’t bruise as easily and didn’t require as many pesticides—was wiped out by a fungus in the late 1920s.

Researchers are hoping that genetic engineering will save the Cavendish, and even better, bring back the Gros Michel.

The search continues for existing varieties that might be useful, also. A professor from Brisbane, Australia, says the sukali ndizi from Uganda is his favorite banana. Sweet and fabulous.

So enjoy your Cavendish while you can.  It might be in short supply in a few years. And to think that I still haven’t smoked any dried banana peels. So much to do; such little time.

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